NBA to approve plan for 22 team return

The NBA’s Board of Governors on Thursday is expected to approve the league’s plan for a 22-team return in Orlando, ESPN reported.

The conference call is slated to take place at 12:30 p.m. ET. The NBA’s Board of Governors requires a three-fourths passage of the 30 teams on a plan.

The return of basketball would start July 31 under the proposal, with the last possible date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals being Oct. 12, ESPN reported.

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, each of the 22 teams will play eight regular-season games for seeding purposes for the playoffs.

The 16 teams now in postseason position will be joined by the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference and the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference.

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The Pelicans (28-36), Kings (28-36) and Trail Blazers (29-37) sit 3 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies (32-33) in the Western Conference. The Spurs (27-36) are four in back of the Grizzlies, while the Suns (26-39) are six back.

The Wizards (24-40) reside six games behind the seventh-place Brooklyn Nets (30-34) and 5 1/2 behind the eighth-place Orlando Magic (30-35).

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, “If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot; if the ninth seed is four or fewer matches behind, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth.”

The Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Nets and Magic currently occupy playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers join the Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Grizzlies in residing in playoff position in the Western Conference. The NBA saw play stopped on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

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